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Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Decline of Democracy

I have always been of the opinion that democracy is like “two wolves and a sheep deciding on what to have for dinner,” for a democratic system has the potential to rapidly chip away at the freedoms and liberties of the individual as the wants and needs of the many gain greater power. Churchill perfectly captured my sentiments when he stated, “it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” While I have never been a big proponent of democracy, I will concede that it is the best choice that we have available for the time being.

I realized a few months ago that under the current political atmosphere we have more things to worry about than the “rule of the majority,” for the tyranny of the minority is rapidly becoming the status quo. We often hear of the 45 million Americans that currently do not have health insurance, yet the politicians never point out that this number makes up a very small portion of American households since 85% of us carry some form of health insurance. The fact that such a small minority can carry enough weight and influence to grant the federal government with an excuse to gain greater control over the free market healthcare system is a scary prospect.

The number of mortgage holders that are currently behind on their mortgage is only 7% of all borrowers, which means that 93% of all mortgage holders are making their payments on time. When you consider that one-third of all homeowners don’t even carry a mortgage and one-third of the population rents an apartment or house, you realize that this number truly is a tiny portion of the population. I am enraged that the vast majority of responsible Americans are now beholden to a tiny minority, and are being forced to pay for their poor choices and fiscal irresponsibility.

Even with all of its shortcomings, I’ll take democracy any day over the rapidly rising oligarchy of freeloaders and mooches that seem to be ruling the day.

self-interest vs. proper role for government

Currently, there is no shortage of topics of conversation in the realm of economics. It seems as though almost every person I talk to makes reference to the current state of the economy, the stimulus bill, the housing market, or some other dire sounding issue. I find it amusing to see how the same people who ask me what exactly economics is as soon as they find out that it is my major are often the ones that are the most outspoken on the economic issues of our day. I don't claim to know it all, not by any means, nor do I mean to call non-econ majors ignorant. My point is that the majority of the comments that I hear seem to have one focus at the center: "what does it mean for me." And this is completely understandable, predictable, and okay. I think that the difference is that most people who study economics (as well as many others who don't), while they too are self-interested, also attempt to focus on what is the proper role for government. For those that only focus on how the government's policies and actions effect them, will make that their lens for judging their actions.

In the provided article (in the link), President Obama describes the current plan to handle the economic crisis. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Obama said that passage of the economic package "is a major milestone on our road to recovery." The President, in his weekly radio address on February 14, thanked the members of Congress who voted for the bill. Obama said the package will save or create more than 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, boost business and consumer spending and establish the groundwork for long-term economic growth. He stressed, however, that the economic plan is only the beginning of action that must be taken to stabilize and reform the banking system and make credit available to families and businesses. "Our long-term economic growth demands that we tame our burgeoning federal deficit; that we invest in the things we need, and dispense with the things we don't," Obama asserted. The President acknowledged that his agenda is challenging but that it is possible to "turn this crisis into opportunity."

When President Obama states that "this is only the beginning of action that must be taken," it makes me wonder what this will really mean and what he thinks the proper role for government. It seems to me that he thinks that it is the governments job to take care of most everything, and be in charge of most everything. Does the government always have to do something? I agree that something should be done, but it doesn't make me feel good simply to know that something will be done, even if it sounds like it appears that it might benefit me. I am wary of pleasant sounding benefits that are seem to only make people feel good about more government control in their lives.

Limiting Liberty

There are so many news stories recently about the President’s 2010 budget.
Stocks of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies stocks fell on Thursday after this budget was unveiled. President Obama wants healthcare providers to bid to provide Medicare Advantage plans in order to reduce the amount of many paid to subsidize these plans. He also wants to reduce money given to pharmaceutical companies for providing prescription to Medicaid participants.
The President plans to allow the Bush Tax cuts to expire, raising the amount of taxes paid by “rich” Americans. He also wants to reduce the deductions these Americans can take on their taxes for charitable contributions.
These are just aca few things the President has planned to help pay for the new budget and his ambitious goal to cut the deficit in half by 2013. It is clear that liberty is not framework our government is operating under. People and businesses are not allowed to do what is best for them but rather, what the government has deemed is best for the “society.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Same Sex Rights - A Separation of Church and State

The battle for same-sex rights is a major topic of discussion in some states. I'm still on the fence regarding same-sex benefits, yet I'd like to discuss certain freedoms and rights that need to provided to same-sex partners. This would include transfer of private property, designation as beneficiaries and guardians in the event of medical emergency or death. These rights should be an individual decision on how to control these matters. Individuals have the right to relationships with other individuals - even if they are same-sex. If I wanted to transfer my property or medical decision rights to another male or female, this is an individual decision. It should not be a State decision. A certificate of marriage should not be a criteria in transferring property rights or in the case of insurance - designating a beneficiary.

I respect the biblical and moral grounds of religion, yet resent the fact that churches work with states in trying to suppress personal rights and our personal affairs. As a firm believer in a separation of Church and State it the mission of churches to reach out to our hearts and minds. It is not the mission of churches to lobby the government for use of force in suppressing individual rights. A churches mission is most efficient in putting their money and efforts into helping those in need or in need of direction. The rights of individuals should not be part of a church mission nor the use of lobbying the government in an effort to suppress personal freedom.

Presently, our country has enough "issues" on our plate in regards to the economy, two wars and the transformation of our government. A truly free society would allow individuals to make their "own" decision on property rights and personal affairs. It should not involve the government or the mission of churches to squash these individual liberties. This is a misuse of control by our government and churches stands in the way of true freedom for all.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cutting the deficit

After clicking on the news link on the Google homepage, I found an article mentioning that President Obama wants to cut the budget deficit in half by the end of his term in 2013. The goal is to cut the current deficit of $1.3 trillion to $533 billion. I found this to be an interesting statement when considering the actions that have already been taken under Obama’s presidency. Thus far, the newspapers have been filled with articles on stimulus packages and bailouts. In addition, 17,000 more troops were scheduled to be sent off to Afghanistan. Spending has only increased and with the recession, government revenues are only falling. Surely the current recession will be over before Obama’s term ends, but until it is; I would only expect to see an increasing deficit.
It’s good to see that Obama wants to decrease the deficit. Perhaps he knows that government borrowing crowds out private investment, perhaps lowering the budget deficit is just good politics. Regardless, accomplishing his goal will take some major adjustments to the spending habits of congress.

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